Snowberg-hvot

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This is written in the Old Norse Meter fornyrthislag by Grim the Skald

It was before the dawn of the first battle of the 36th Pennsic War in A.S. 42. The East Kingdom was badly outnumbered, and there were many among the troops who thought it unlikely they would survive the upcoming battle. Baron Angus Kerr of Concordia could not sleep, and wandered throughout the encampment. Dawn was just turning the black sky grey when he came upon the tend of his Skald, Grim. The Baron woke his skald, and asked him if he could chant a poem to wake the troops, and rouse them to battle. [1] Grim thought for a few moments, and then began this Lay:


1. Dawn is the day darkness is fleeing
Crows the rooster and rustles its wings
Farmers arise their fields to tend
And thralls take up the tasks of morn

2. Harken and wake, warriors of Snowberg
No gentle work waits for your hands
Harken and rise, heroes of East-Realm!
Our bane has come battle draws nigh!

3. Gone is the night and gone its peace
Dreadful and dire a dragon has come!
Spears are its teeth, a spine of glaives
Sharp swords are claws, a shield each scale

4. Gilt-girded helms are gleaming eyes,
Its wings banners of white and red,
Breath is not fire but flurries of shafts!
This baleful beast blackens the hills!

5. Let not hearts falter though fearsome this beast
Bare now your blades for our Baronies’ sake
Lay down your lives in our leaders’ names
Hark to the names of the noble ones

6. Laurencia the deft deep-minded and wise
Lyle the clever, whose calls ring out
Elwynn the fierce, ne’er flinches from war
Angus the bright-armed, bravest of men

7. Bear the honor of your brethren too
Who before did fight fierce as tigers
Bought they with blood two Baronies’ fame
Hear as I hail these heroes of war!

8. Who fought cornered ‘gainst castle wall
Or strong shield met and stopped berserkers
Who in deep forest fought like seven,
Who spilled the foe’s flight-swifts like rain,
Or lunged through the foe like a spear-head

9. These warriors names need not be sang
For heroes to the hall homeward will come
Warmth of the hearth welcomes the fighters
Skalds will then chant the champions’ fame

10. Your bard calls out, keen hear his voice.
Your baron calls, bide no longer,
Your King calls out, come to his side!
Let Tiger’s roar rouse you to battle!

11. Concordia heed the call of war!
Bergental rise! To battle we go!
Your fame will not fade if this fray takes you
Deeds on this day endure for all time!


©2007 Dan Marsh

Footnotes

  1. This is a fairly frequent usage of poetry in Old Norse. It is referred to as a “hvöt,” which is generally translated as “incitement” or “exhortation.” This particular scene is evocative of St. Olaf's Saga, where the Skald then recited a poem named Bjarkarsmal. My poem is evocative of that one, particularly in the early verses.
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